CONSEQUENCES FOR INJUSTICE
Background Hab. 2 |Printed text Hab. 2: 6-14 | Devotional Reading Psalms 130
BACKGROUND – Habakkuk 2
Our lesson for today takes place during the time when Israel was a divided Kingdom. Israel was divided into the Northern Kingdom called Israel and the Southern Kingdom called Judah. During that time, God sent many prophets to prophesize to his people. God sent the prophets so that they could warn Israel and Judah that their continued sinfulness would be punished. But the people responded negatively. They essentially ignored the prophets, persecuted them, and even killed a few. Prophet after prophet was commissioned by God to speak to Israel and Judah to warn them to turn from their wicked ways back to God, but they continued in their sin. From the time of King Rehoboam to King Zedekiah of Judah, God warned the people that their disobedience would not go unpunished and God always keep his word.
From this lesson, we get a glimpse into life in Israel and Judah during the divided kingdom. We also are privileged to read about Habakkuk’s profound conversation with God concerning the gross injustices he witnessed in Judah and the consequences that God would mete out for injustice.
Habakkuk is one of the smaller books of the bible. The book is found in Old Testament between Nahum and Zephaniah and the entire book is only 3, very short, chapters long. Habakkuk prophesized from about 639 to 537 BC and he is considered a minor prophet, not because his prophecy is a less significant than the Major Prophets but because of the length of his book.
From our previous studies, we learned, that during the divided kingdom, all the kings of Israel were bad, but Judah had a few good kings. When a good king reigned, there was a period of remembrance and repentance and the good king would lead the nation in a sort of revival or reformation back to God. Unfortunately, all Kings of Israel kings were bad. As a result of bad leadership, the members of the Northern Kingdom were evil during the entire period of the divided kingdom. Their evil ways included apostasy, Idol worship, lawlessness, violence, corruption of government, perversion of justice, contention, strife and other wickedness throughout the land. There was a sort of trickledown effect of evil that flowed from the throne to other members of the nation. Because of Israel’s prolonged history of sinfulness, God allowed the Assyrians to conquer them in about 722 BC and carry them into captivity. At the time of Israel’s captivity, God spared Judah to go on untouched by the Assyrians or any other nation for a little while longer. It is possible that God spared Judah for a while because they were fortunate enough to have had a few good kings.
During the reign of the good kings the people were generally good as a nation. However, the last four kings of Judah were all bad. Because of Judah’s evil, down through the years, God allowed the Babylonians (Chaldeans) to conquer them and carry their people into Babylonian captivity in three stages, starting in about 609 BC. Judah had turned back to idolatry and unrelenting sinfulness after the reforms of Kings Uzziah, Jotham and Joash. Lawlessness, abuse of power, corruption, mistreatment of the elderly and less fortunate was the order of the day. The wicked profited while people doing good suffered. The Babylonians conquest of Judah was complete in about 587 BC. The city was burned, and the utterly destroyed.
Prophet Habakkuk saw the injustice in his society, and it grieved him greatly. So, he went to God with his concerns in the form of questions, concerns and complaints.
1. How do you respond to injustice in our society?
2. What do you do and who do you go to address a problem dealing with injustice?
Habakkuk asked God a series of probing questions to help him make sense of what was happening in his country, Judah. Habakkuk said:
“2How long, LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, "Violence!" but you do not save? 3Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. 4Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted. How long, O Lord, must I call for help? But your do not listen! Violence is everywhere! I cry but you do not come to save.
God’s Answer to Habakkuk was not what he expected, and his response teaches us that we should be careful about what we ask of God. Gods way of addressing a problem may not be our way. God’s justice is not our Justice. God told Habakkuk that he was going to raise up the Chaldeans (Babylonians), that ruthless and impetuous people, to seize dwellings not their own. Habakkuk did not like God’s plan, and he complained to God that the rod he planned to use to chastise Judah was much more sinful. It was God’s intention to use the Babylonians to chastise Judah so that they would return to Him. After presenting his argument and complaining, Habakkuk asked God if the Babylonians would be punished too since they were more sinful than the Jews. God responded that the Babylonians would also be punished for their sinfulness in God’s own time.
In chapter 2 verse 4, God informs and comforts Habakkuk by stating, “the righteous shall live by faith in God”. The Babylonians trusted in themselves, but the righteous put their trust in God. In other words, no matter how difficult a situation may be, and circumstances impossible to man, the righteous walk on in faith trusting and believing in God. God is still on the throne and in complete control of whatever hardships and difficulties comes into their lives.
As I said before, we have learned from previous Bible lessons and historical documents, the Babylonians did in conquer Judah in a series of attacks. The final attack and destruction occurred in about 587 BC and the last of the people of Judah were taken into captivity and remained there about 70 years as prophesied.
LESSON PRINTED TEXT – Habakkuk 2: 6-14
As we dive deep into our printed text, the keep in mind verse illuminates the coming consequences for injustice of the Babylonians. The key verse states, “What sorrow awaits you who build cities with money gained through murder and corruption!” Habakkuk 2:12, NLT
The Babylonians were proud of their military might and their accomplishments for being a ruthless and murdering, conquerors. But, little did they know, God was using them, and their own demise was the next order of business for God. Habakkuk prophetically tells us that soon the captives would taunt and mock their captors, by saying the following:
1. They will get what they deserve for being thieves and becoming rich by extorting others. The captives will taunt the following to the Babylonian captors:
2. Debtors will turn on you and take what you have.
3. Survivors of the places you conquered will plunder you because you have plundered so many nations.
4. Sorrow awaits you because you build big houses with money gained dishonestly.
5. The murders you have committed have shamed your names and will make you forfeit your lives.
6. You work hard but the wealth of your nation will turn to ashes and be in vain.
7. In the end, God will get the glory. You too (the Babylonians) will be punished for your sin and the glory belongs to God.
In conclusion, we know that the Babylonians as did the Jews, did in fact receive their consequence for injustice from God. Cyrus the King or Persian and his army defeated the Babylonians (Chaldeans) and allowed the Jews and other conquered people to return to their homeland. The glory belongs to no man, but God.